Nye awoke with a headache, dry mouth and hair matted with sweat. Gulls were calling outside his window. He struggled to focus on his surroundings, on the scuffed corner of a chest of drawers and the damp patch above his bed. His landlady shouted to get a move on or miss breakfast. He got dressed and lumbered downstairs like an exhausted ground sloth. After breakfast he set out for work. His head still throbbed.
Nye walked round a corner and saw Dad, Cox and Bladen approaching. Nye was tempted to run but resisted. If his father demanded him back then flight would only delay the inevitable.
"Hello son, I've got something to tell you," Yanto announced. "I've had a chat with your friends here and you've got my permission to stay here."
"Wh-wha-at? Are you sure?"
"Of course, I wouldn't say it if I wasn't."
Nye's eyebrows shot up his forehead. Tension drained out of the youngster's body and he shivered at the release, then got a grip on himself. Had they been somewhere more secluded Nye would have whooped and punched cool morning air.
"Thank you Dad, thank you so much."
Father and son shook hands. Nye grinned. Yanto looked more sombre. Nye thanked the other two and pressed their flesh. Bladen said to Nye "don't forget to keep in touch with your mother."
"Have some faith in me, I won't forget."
The pledge was accompanied by clopping of horse's hooves for equine muscles were pulling a milk cart through cobbled streets.
Nye asked "Dad, if I asked Cathy to marry me would you give me permission?"
"Don't push your luck, I'm still getting used to you staying here."
Nye's face became a study in disappointment. Then he thought that at least he and Cathy could go on seeing each other and he brightened up. The group broke up. All four of them said goodbyes. Father and son went their seperate ways. Bladen and Cox lingered side by side, near a garden with a fuscia bush.
"Well, it brought us together again didn't it," Bladen concluded.
"I'm glad it has mate," Cox replied. "I was wrong about women and you were right, they should be allowed to vote."
Bladen smiled, then made a suggestion. "Let's meet for a drink tomorrow night, its bin too long since we did that."
"Yes, good idea."
Nye almost bounded into work that morning. A spring rarely left his step and his eyes hardly stopped sparkling. That evening he met Cathy on the pier. Lights shone in the theatre's windows. Her father had told her Nye could stay. She ran to him with bright eyes and bared teeth, eager as a hind at the rut. They wrapped their arms around each other and she kissed him on the lips. He held her tight, spreading strong hands over her back. Then he lifted her up and spun her around.
Nye put Cathy down on hard boards, close to the bandstand. She asked "well Mr Morgan, what do we do next?"
"I'm finding it hard to do without fish and chips."
She chortled then said "that's not what I meant."
"I know," he answered. "I'm not sure. We won't be building those houses forever, some are nearly finished. After that I don't know where I might go or what I'll be doing."
They bought savoury fish and chips, then left the pier and walked on the beach. Artificial lights lay behind them. The moon shone down. It was the colour of tangy cheddar cheese. They finished their meal.
"I'll wait till you're twenty-one if that's what it takes," Cathy assured him. "I don't want any other man."
He responded with an arm around her shoulders and another kiss. She was as fresh to him as the taste of mint.
As always fishing boats lay drawn up on the shore, near piled up lobster pots. Some had sails but many sported chimneys.
Nye said "Cathy, you've done a lot for me, now I'd like to teach you something. Its a song from back home.
Guide me now oh great redeemer
Pilgrim through this barren land
I am weak but thou art mighty
Hold me in thy powerful hand
"I like the tune,"she said, "but after all your Dad put you through do you want a reminder of home?"
"It wasn't all being knocked about Cathy. Remember the Medical Aid Society? You don't have anything like it here, do you. Without it I wouldn't be alive today. As for Dad, there must be violent men in England too."
Their feet crunched on pebbles. No one else was in sight. Black shadows of boats gave them privacy. She looked thoughtful, then said "okay, teach us the whole hym and we'll perform it."
"I'd love to." Nye lowered his head until his lips were close to hers. Then he said "I love you Cathy Bladen."
She raised her arms and clasped them around him, then stroked the back of his head. Her lips parted and she extended her tongue. He opened his warm mouth and let it in. Next he slid a hand down her back. Their pulses went into overdrive and their spines tingled. It would have been difficult to seperate them with a crowbar. They didn't know what the future might hold, but neither doubted that they would face it together.